Art Battle International hosted Art Battle Mississauga this past Wednesday, featuring twelve artists—ranging from professional and amateur in skill level. The event was an evening of live competitive painting.

In each round, artists are given 20 minutes to paint their best piece of work using only acrylic paint and non-mechanical tools, such as brushes, rollers, and pallet knives. At the end of the first and second round, guests place their vote on their favourite pieces of work, and the top two artists move on to the third and final round. The top artist of the third round is the winner of the battle and has the opportunity to move on to the regional competition and possibly the national competition.

The four finalists, in no particular order, were Michael Huggins, Khaula Mazhar, Jia Cao, and Bhairavi Jathar.

Huggins is a professional painter, Art Battle expert, and past finalist. Huggins was a pleasure to watch; creating dark, graphic portraits at incredible speed. It was amazing to walk around all the easels and then return to see what he had added to his work in just a minute or two. Huggins piece from the first round, a dark portrait blended with reds, greens, and purple, was one of my favourites of the night.

Mazhar, a realist painter and Art Battle veteran, created two unique and beautiful paintings throughout the night. Her first-round painting started with a totally black canvas, before she delicately painted a falling wine glass that held a goldfish. In the final round, Mazhar switched gears and painted a roaring wave, rushing in front of a beautifully blended sunset.

Jathar is a graphic designer who showcased her skill and unique techniques in her first ever Art Battle. Jathar swayed to the music as she used a paint roller to begin both her pieces. In her final-round piece she blended oranges, blues, and greens with her roller to create an abstract background; in this piece, she added a rainy city scape in black and grey. This piece was my favourite for the final round, as it came together so beautifully and with so many interesting techniques.

Finally, Cao is an amateur painter and Art Battle first-timer. Her first-round piece was a gorgeous traditional autumn landscape with added abstract elements. She switched tone entirely for the final round, painting a watercolour vase of flowers using on blue and white. Cao finished her final-round piece with eight minutes to spare, but she seemed confident that her work was complete. This confidence paid off as Cao ultimately took home the win. Upon accepting, she stated that her art inspiration was to “simply paint natural things that make me happy,” which she showcased in both of her creations.

The Living Arts Centre will be hosting two more battles in the near future, with a youth event on March 10. A second adult art battle will be held on May 16.